Cold Cold Bones by Kathy Reichs (Temperance Brennan #21) #BookReview #Thriller #Mystery

#1 New York Times bestselling thriller writer Kathy Reichs returns with her twenty-first novel of suspense featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan who, after receiving a box containing a human eyeball, uncovers a series of gruesome killings eerily reenacting the most shocking of her prior cases.

Winter has come to North Carolina and, with it, a drop in crime. Freed from a heavy work schedule, Tempe Brennan is content to dote on her daughter Katy, finally returned to civilian life from the army. But when mother and daughter meet at Tempe’s place one night, they find a box on the back porch. Inside: a very fresh human eyeball.

GPS coordinates etched into the eyeball lead to a Benedictine monastery where an equally macabre discovery awaits. Soon after, Tempe examines a mummified corpse in a state park, and her anxiety deepens.

There seems to be no pattern to the subsequent killings uncovered, except that each mimics in some way a homicide that a younger Tempe had been called in to analyze. Who or what is targeting her, and why?

Helping Tempe search for answers is detective Erskine “Skinny” Slidell, retired but still volunteering with the CMPD cold case unit—and still displaying his gallows humor. Also pulled into the mystery: Andrew Ryan, Tempe’s Montreal-based beau, now working as a private detective.

Could this elaborately staged skein of mayhem be the prelude to a twist that is even more shocking? Tempe is at a loss to establish the motive for what is going on…and then her daughter disappears.

At its core, Cold, Cold Bones is a novel of revenge—one in which revisiting the past may prove the only way to unravel the present.

What’s it about (in a nutshell):

Cold Cold Bones by Kathy Reichs is the latest case that Temperance Brennan must solve with the help of her colleagues in law enforcement. A human eyeball is sent to Tempe’s home, which starts this fast-paced thrill ride of what looks like copycat killings from her previous cases. Who is trying to get her attention and why?

Initial Expectations (before beginning the book):

I love the cover. It’s like you are looking through an ice-coated window. The “O” in the second “cold” is red while all the other letters are black, and a woman is walking towards it. I can’t even begin to speculate as to why a red “O,” but the cover is mysterious and very cold looking. The blurb clarifies the cold imagery by explaining that the book is set in the winter. It talks about a story based on revenge, which, as we know, is a dish best served cold.

Actual Reading Experience:

The story is in first-person narration from Tempe’s point of view. She is sarcastic and snarky, so her thoughts are always fun to know. I am delighted this narration approach is utilized. It also helps keep the pace quick, as Tempe never slows down.

The mystery is okay. There are no jaw-dropping twists or turns, but it is a solid mystery with just the correct number of clues versus red herrings. The thrills are consistently intense as the body count starts stacking up and a child goes missing. The suspense never lets up from the time the eyeball in the box is opened until the conclusion.

I enjoyed the setting. Making this all happen during a blizzard was both a good aspect and a bad aspect for me. It added to the intensity and urgency, but it was also tough to believe since I live right outside of Charlotte, NC. I’ve lived here for over 20 years and the most snow we’ve ever gotten in that time is between 4 and 6 inches. If it had been set in a nasty ice storm, that would have been more believable and equally as intense because the ice storms here wipe out power for many days and make all surfaces very slick. I know the author lives part-time in Charlotte, so this choice was a bit of a head-scratcher for me.

I had the added shock of discovering that Reichs’ used part of the company my husband works for as an important event location. She changed the name and the function but not the industry or the location (which is how I knew it was that company). The world felt very small to me at that point in the story.

Lastly, I enjoyed Katy’s story. Katy is Tempe’s daughter and has recently decided to leave the armed forces after serving numerous tours in Afghanistan. She potentially has PTSD and must figure out what to do with the rest of her life. I felt that depicting a recently honorably discharged soldier was very authentic, and the possible mental health issues were handled respectfully and empathetically.


The characters are interesting, with intriguing back stories and distinct personalities. Sometimes they are borderline stereotypical, but I was okay with that. This is the 21st installment of the series, so I would expect many layers and facets for even the support characters.

What It Reminds Me Of:

The thing that still amazes me about this series is how different the book Temperance Brennan is from the TV character of the same name. They are not the same character in the slightest.

To Read or Not to Read:

If you love a high level of suspense and thrills mixed with a good solid mystery, you should pick up this installment of Kathy Reich’s Temperance Brennan series, which can be read as a standalone.

My Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

19 Replies to “Cold Cold Bones by Kathy Reichs (Temperance Brennan #21) #BookReview #Thriller #Mystery”

  1. Fantastic review, Tessa!
    I’ve only read a few of the Temperance Brennan books (what I was able to get my hands on at the time.. and not recently) but I really enjoyed them and this sounds like a killer addition to the series. I may have try rereading it from the beginning because, as much as I like the show, book Brennan really is a fascinating character to follow.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 21st in the series is amazing. I can’t imagine. But it sounds like a good read and I do love sarcasm and snark, so the pov appeals to me. Nice to know that it works as a stand-alone too. Thanks for sharing your review, Tessa.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review Tessa!! I love reading the Temperance Brennan books, really need to get back to working my way through the series!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a great book to read in the heat of summer! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great review. I love a snarky character so the heroine really appeals to me. Small world indeed with the link to your husbands workplace.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right? I couldn’t believe it. The author, Kathy Reichs, lives in the same part of Charlotte as the CEO, so we wondered if they know each other. It is just such an odd thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great review, Tessa. I have read up to #17 so am behind on this series. I really need to catch up. I agree, a snowstorm in Charlotte is a just a bit off, but I like the addition of a storm in a mystery. She often has her stories set in Montreal, which would have made more sense for a snowstorm. It is nice to have those personal connections to a story, though. This sounds like another solid Tempe story.

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.